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US Copyright Act - What is copyright infringement?

Question:  What do I need to do to prove copyright infringement under the  US Copyright act?

Note:  We are not lawyers, and this page is not legal advice.  For legal advice, consult a qualified attorney, not this web page.


To prevail on a copyright infringement claim, a plaintiff must establish two elements:

(1) ownership of a valid copyright and

(2) copying by the defendant.  See Keeler Brass Co. v. Continental Brass Co., 862 F.2d 1063 (4th Cir. 1988); Atari, Inc. v. North American Philips Consumer Electronics Corp., 672 F.2d 607, 614 (7th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 880, 103 S. Ct. 176 (1982). 

Thus, to establish a prima facie case of copyright infringement, a plaintiff must demonstrate that

(1) "he owned the copyright to the work that was allegedly copied," and

(2) "the defendant copied protected elements of the work." Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens, Inc., 241 F.3d 350, 353 (4th Cir. 2001).  

The first element requires an analysis of whether the plaintiff has a registration certificate, and whether the copyrighted work is sufficiently original to warrant copyright protection.  

Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 361, 111 S. Ct. 1282 (1991).  See also 17 U.S.C. 411(a); Xoom, Inc. v. Imageline, Inc., 323 F.3d 279, 283 (4th Cir. 2003) (A copyright must be registered prior to the institution of an action for infringement.)

Note:  We are not lawyers, and this page is not legal advice.  For legal advice, consult a qualified attorney, not this web page.

 

 

   

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